Political Economic Discourses & Enduring Cooperation in Post-Disaster Ecuador

Principal Investigator: AJ Faas
Student Researcher: Briza Diaz
Funding: SJSU Undergraduate Research Awards ($1000)19991102_Tung_large
Funding is being used to support anthropology undergraduate student, Briza Diaz, in an analysis of the minutes and resolutions (“actas”) of a small post-disaster resettlement, Pusuca, of smallholding agriculturalists in highland Ecuador. AJ Faas collected these data–155 pages handwritten by the village council secretary over four years (2008-2011)–as part of an ongoing study of recovery from the 2006 eruptions of Mt. Tungurahua. One core concern of the project is the development of two principal recovery strategies in the resettlement. The first involves working through local Andean practices of communal labor (known as “mingas”). The second is to promote individualistic, capitalist, “entrepreneurial” initiatives. The Andean people in this resettlement present their culture and practices like minga as moral, communitarian alternatives to capitalist greed. However, the resettlement agencies appear to change minga practice to meet their own objectives–altering the rules and conditions of participation, though it is not always obvious how and where they insert these new norms. Likewise, in spite of the communitarian ideals of the community, locals often enthusiastically volunteer for entrepreneurial economic programs offered by the resettlement agencies. Often, local peasant ambitions and desires are produced and invoked as if they were locally derived, while at the same time being co-created by dominant interests. This project seeks to trace the patterns of influence–internal community vs. external agencies–that have produced both new forms of Andean cooperation and entrepreneurial strategies.

Evaluating Aquaculture for Social-Ecological Resilience in Moss Landing and Monterey Bay

Principal Investigator: Ana Pitchon

Project Team: Alisha Ragland, Joseph Carpio

California is poised to become a major producer of farmed marine products given our extensive coastline and the state’s priorities for economic growth. Aquaculture is an industry that has profound environmental, economic and social impacts, and we are investigating how a transition to this activity from wild-capture fishing has the potential to create resilient coastal communities.  aqua

This research addresses specific resilience indicators among those who wish to engage in the transition from wild-capture commercial fishing to involvement in a local aquaculture cooperative through an assessment of variables related to well-being/quality of life. Engagement in the aquaculture industry can alleviate economic pressures faced by the commercial fishing industry due to declining stocks, increased regulation and restricted access. There are several cases in the United States where communities have transitioned to aquaculture after regulation of their fisheries imposed closures that forced an industry shift. These communities have demonstrated resilience by maintaining their connection to marine resources and other associated socio-cultural characteristics, like social networks. We are also conducting policy analysis related to the regulatory and permitting process in the state, with the aim of making this information more accessible and ultimately streamlining the process to facilitate involvement in the industry.

Given some current negative trends in commercial fishing in California, it is clear that small-scale fishermen here will need to adapt to the changing social and ecological environment if they want to create a sustainable solution for themselves and their communities.

American Indian Urban Relocation Project

Principal Investigators: Charlotte Sunseri, AJ Faas, Jan English-Lueck
Project Partner: New Museum of Los Gatos (NUMU)
Urban Relocation Project
A research team—made up of anthropologists at San Jose State University, historians at NUMU (New Museum of Los Gatos), and American Indians relocated to San Jose since 1960—are teaming up this Spring to prepare a museum exhibit on an overlooked American Indian experience. The Urban Relocation Project (or Indian Relocation Act of 1956) reportedly helped relocate Native communities’ young adults to provide work opportunities outside reservations and push assimilation into mainstream American society, but the consequences of cultural disruption have not been fully studied. The relocatees and social scientists in this project are working together to understand how participants managed life outside established kin networks, navigated social identity construction, built a Bay Area pan-Indian community, and organized collective action and advocacy (e.g. American Indian Movement activism). The results of this study will include a NUMU museum exhibit in September 2016 and creation of an archive collection of relocatees’ oral histories. San Jose and San Francisco were among the handful of cities selected for this program, and the museum exhibit will feature the stories of individuals who experienced this program and its legacies to their children and grandchildren. The research and its outcomes—including oral histories, exhibit stories, and lines of inquiry—are driven by a joint partnership with the relocatee community and are guided by the Indian Health Center of Santa Clara Valley’s Vernon Medicine Cloud and Al Cross.

Parking Matters

Principal Investigator: J.A. English-Lueck, Ph.D.

Project Team:
Gianina Bebb, Leah Grant, Jeffrey Greger, Chelsea Halliwell, Erika Harvey, Sarah Luce, Johnny Luna, Jamieson Mockel, Angela Moniz, Ari Pimentel, Alisha Ragland, Ailea Scheffler, Kelli Sullivan and Megan Watson.selfdriving-nissan

Project Partners:
Drs. Melissa Cefkin and Brigitte Jordan (Nissan Research Center)


In the tradition of the Anthropology department, this graduate seminar has a “client” that will work with the students to create an applied deliverable. Working with the Nissan Research Center, we are collaborating with SJSU Visiting Scholars, Drs. Cefkin and Jordan, who looking broadly at the social and cultural implications of autonomous vehicles. Forecasters imagine that autonomous fleet vehicles will affect parking, since they can be continuously booked and used. Yet, parking, as a social rather than a planning phenomenon, has been subject to only a few ethnographies. This graduate seminar studies such issues as adapting traditional research methods for special-purpose clients, human-centered service design, and heritage management and community engagement. The class has broken into research teams that explore facets of parking related to the course topic, creating mini-projects suitable to the class domains. These team projects include tracking historic changes in land use of the corner of San Fernando and Market, reimagining park and ride services, mapping emotional landscape of campus parking, and using an innovative experimental use of parking “mini-parks” to attract and engage people to think about the role of parking on community. Students will conduct their research, and share summaries and videos with the Visiting Scholars from the Nissan Research Center.

Continuity and Change in Community Leadership: The CommUniverCity Study

Principal Investigator:
A.J. Faas, Ph.D.

Project Team:
Chelsea Halliwell, Stephanie
Monterrosa, Jamieson Mockel,
DeDe Patterson, Ailea Scheffler,
and Elaine Foster

Project Partner:
Additional funding provided by the Laura Good Grant for Undergraduate ResearchCommUniverCity study

CommUniverCity is a collaborative partnership between the San José Council District Three neighborhoods (Comm), San José State University (Univer), and the City of San José (City). The San José Council District Three neighborhoods are home to roughly 96,000 residents, the majority (nearly 2/3) of whom have been identified as low income. This primarily Latino and immigrant community represents a key part of the shifting demographic profile of San José. District Three communities are also home to many grassroots leaders with ties to CommUniverCity and who have been engaged in protecting and developing their communities. Yet, as generations of community residents succeed one another, so too do generations of leadership. Concerned with the future of grassroots leadership in District Three, CommUniverCity has partnered with the Department of Anthropology at SJSU to develop a study of community leadership. Specifically, this study is designed to understand: (1) the attributes, capacities, and resources of established community leaders; (2) the attributes, capacities, and resources of emerging community leaders; (3) community leadership needs; and (4) the degree alignment between community leadership needs, established leadership, and emerging leadership. Ultimately, the study will attempt to determine how community members and leaders best work to foster the development of leadership to meet community needs. Because recent work on leadership has highlighted that there are different types of leaders in terms of the roles they play in the community network (e.g., conveners, thought leaders, and process facilitators), this study is designed to inductively determine what kinds of leaders exist in the community, what kinds of leaders are emerging, and the extent to which emerging leadership profiles correspond to established leadership profiles. Also, because leadership capacity is largely a product of community capacity and institutional and political contexts, this study will seek to identify the factors that facilitate or inhibit leadership capacities. Finally, because leadership capacities are appropriate to different needs, objectives, and contexts, this study will identify community needs and objects and explore the extent to which established and emerging leadership profiles correspond to these needs and objectives.